Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Bitcoin United States Politics

FEC Will Not Allow Bitcoin Campaign Contributions 49

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the end-the-bitfed dept.
First time accepted submitter memnock writes "ABC new reports: 'Political organizations can't accept contributions in the form of bitcoins, at least for now, The Federal Election Commission said Thursday. The commission passed on a request by the Conservative Action Fund, a political action committee, to use the digital currency. That group had asked the FEC recently whether it could accept bitcoins, how it could spend them and how donors must report those contributions. It was not immediately clear whether the same ruling would apply to individual political candidates.' Slashdot reported earlier this week that other federal agencies have taken positions that may recognize or regulate the currency."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FEC Will Not Allow Bitcoin Campaign Contributions

Comments Filter:
  • sure they can. (Score:4, Informative)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Saturday November 23, 2013 @12:07PM (#45500961) Homepage Journal

    through a provider that converts them for cash and gives that cash and provided the contributor states his name(presumably this is a condition for these donations in usa?).

    that's how just about any site selling something for bitcoin operates anyways - the site receives dollars or euros from the payment processor.. the site never sees the bitcoin.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And just how do you verify who is the actual sender? How do you know it's not a foreign campaign donation? Or above the legal limit?

      We already have bought and sold pseudo politicians running the country. This doesn't make it better.

      • Re:sure they can. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by plover (150551) on Saturday November 23, 2013 @12:59PM (#45501203) Homepage Journal

        Actually, I think accepting bitcoins for campaign donations would make it much better. Bitcoins are pseudonymous at best, they are not cryptographically anonymous. And the global transaction log shows exactly which wallets were involved, every step of the way. Track the wallet, track the campaign cash.

        Sarah Meiklejohn is a researcher who was able to trace the bitcoins used for a marijuana purchase on the Silk Road. https://cse.ucsd.edu/node/2299 [ucsd.edu]

        I'm all for allowing people to make mistakes in covering up their illicit activities.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          But tying the wallets to certain individuals is what proves difficult.

          • But tying the wallets to certain individuals is what proves difficult.

            If only string theory weren't so slippery.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        how? you trust that they asked. how do you verify it with cheque or cash in hand? or above the limits? well duh using the same as any other way. the point being its all a trust based system to begin with. ..or are they only allowed to do them via cash-in-hand with in id in another hand while an elections official checks the id? I really doubt that.

    • Re:sure they can. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday November 23, 2013 @01:27PM (#45501365)

      It's not quite like that. The FEC governs how elections are run here down to how campaign workers can spend their time. Due to our first amendment (which is a great amendment, don't get me wrong) anyone can pretty much give anything to a candidate. This combined with our de facto 2 party system (which is protected by the 2 parties, not the constitution) sets up the perfect pay-for-play political system. Organizations give money to candidates and expect results... and usually get them. The our media which is already reeling from financial loses to the internet gets their largest revenue from elections and political ads. The candidates spend so much money on a single campaign now that anyone not willing to except large donations with strings, has absolutely no chance of even showing up on the ballot much less getting elected. The only way they can even get on local news stations is to make statements so outlandish that the media has to put them on.

      I suspect that this decision will be challenged in court and reversed based on the 1st amendment and the fact that the rest of the fed seems to be accepting it as a legit currency. Our only real hope for reform in this country is that the 2 parties eventually screw up so badly that the general populace loses faith in both them and the media that supports them. But I'm not holding my breath.

      • by khallow (566160)

        I suspect that this decision will be challenged in court and reversed based on the 1st amendment

        Why would it be? The holder of Bitcoins can always convert them to dollars and then donate the dollars. The restriction is not a serious restriction of any freedoms.

        and the fact that the rest of the fed seems to be accepting it as a legit currency

        I don't see that. They're basically treating Bitcoins like they would anything you can buy and sell. And if you make a profit, you pay taxes on the profit in US dollars not Bitcoins.

      • The two party system is protected by “First Past the Post” method. 2 parties is the only stable system according to game theory. It further suggests that the 2 parties will be center left and center right.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      provided the contributor states his name(presumably this is a condition for these donations in usa?)

      It is not a condition for donations in the US, and that's what the big fight is about. There are those that would like to remove all transparency and accountability from political donations. This way, money can be given in limitless amounts without anyone knowing where that money came from.

      Everything in a free society works better when there is transparency when it comes to governance. We've gotten so far

  • unless... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Saturday November 23, 2013 @12:10PM (#45500973)
    What if they're from a corporations? I heard they're allowed to buy elections now so who cares if it's variable worth, probably laundered money?
    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday November 23, 2013 @12:28PM (#45501057) Homepage Journal

      Now, now - stop exaggerating. Corporations aren't allowed to simply buy elections. There is an approved bidding process. Candidates are shown off like prized cattle, and the corporations have to attend the auction, make their bids, then wait for election day to find whether their bids were successful. One does NOT simply waltz in, choose his candidate, and purchase him!

      • Re: unless... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by therealkevinkretz (1585825) * on Saturday November 23, 2013 @12:31PM (#45501071)

        A corp doesn't have to choose - in close campaigns the big ones donate to both so they're owed regardless of the outcome

      • Now, now - stop exaggerating. Corporations aren't allowed to simply buy elections. There is an approved bidding process. Candidates are shown off like prized cattle, and the corporations have to attend the auction, make their bids, then wait for election day to find whether their bids were successful. One does NOT simply waltz in, choose his candidate, and purchase him!

        It is more like a whore house by proxy.
        Candidates are preened, paraded, even seduced...
        but it's the constituents that get screwed...

  • If you can't anonymously donate to a political campaign, your voice can't be heard!

    Um, wait . . .

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      What is the umm wait about? There are plenty if instances that you might want your voice heard but not recognized as your voice. This could be from fears of reprecussion in your job, home life, or even personal safety. There could be lots of reasons where the lack of anonimity silences your voice.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Never say "No." Say "But, if.." or "Yes, but.." This move by the FEC is just going to create a black market. They act like they're trying to protect the integrity of elections, but the effect will be the opposite. It's just like how drug prohibition creates criminal cartels. Now we're going to have bitcoin-funded ads of unknown attribution since the advertiser won't be legally allowed to say who they are.

  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Saturday November 23, 2013 @12:49PM (#45501153) Homepage Journal

    People: "FEC, how should we report these transactions?"

    FEC: "We will punish you, if you report these transactions."

    People: "Ok, we won't report these transactions."

    Problem solved.

    • Yeah, plus individual politicians are already accepting Bitcoin donations and have been since at least the 2012 elections. The FEC probably recognizes that getting cows back into the barn is a tricky job so they didn't touch it.

  • i get what they are trying to do, stop jillionaires from dumping money anonymously into campaigns. here's a better idea: stop allowing political orgs from accepting donations. if someone is running a campaign, they should be given a fixed amount of money and a fixed date to begin campaigns. i really dont want to hear about who is running for president two years before hand.

    note: i said it was a better idea, not that politicians rather die than let this happen.

  • ... we''l jut fall back the the tried and trusted suitcases full of $100 bills.

  • Bitcoins are rapidly gaining acceptance for payments because companies wanna receive them because they are appreciating rapidly.

  • I read a comment from political scientist Ray Laraja that I thought was interesting: "It doesn't sound like [the FEC commissioners] are going to do this, but if they allow bitcoins to remain anonymous then politicians actually wouldn't know who's giving to them. And so at least in theory, that could cut off this corrupt exchange." I don't know how feasible that really is, but would it improve things if all political contribution were required to be made anonymously via bitcoin.

  • While it may have less than the full effect of legislation...I recall a reference to BTC having already been cleared for campaign finance. Here are the links if you want to listen to the meetings (4hrs) to clear this up. My impression was the idea seemed to enliven the interest (and debate) from a politician's viewpoint. 11/18/2013 - http://www.hsgac.senate.gov/hearings/beyond-silk-road-potential-risks-threats-and-promises-of-virtual-currencies [senate.gov] 11/19/2013 - 3:30-ish - http://www.banking.senate.gov/public/in [senate.gov]
  • The FEC did NOT say that PACs can't accept Bitcoin. They pretty much unanimously agreed during the meeting ( audio [fec.gov]) that PACs *can* accept Bitcoin, and the Libertarians and some candidates already were and continue to do so.

    They just couldn't decide *how* PACs should accept Bitcoin, and CAF (the requester) didn't ask about accounting standards or the like, so they didn't approve the request. FEC decisions are ternary: yes, no, and nil. This is nil, not no.

    Full disclosure: my PAC's comments [makeyourlaws.org] explaining a bunch

"Marriage is low down, but you spend the rest of your life paying for it." -- Baskins

Working...